As ready-converted devotees of the practice, we all know that the gifts of yoga are many, varied and precious.
Our personal practice, whether it is a daily, weekly or more spontaneous one, promises us the invaluable gift of presence and quickly delivers us to a real, felt, tangible sense of our body, through which we experience life as it is truly unfolding, and not the way it transpires inside our mind.
Developing a refined quality of attention and feeling of “grounded-ness” is never more valuable than during times of reordering, transition and change. Right now, when we are both individually and collectively facing great uncertainty and incredible disruption to our well-trodden ways and usual routines, the healthiest and most effective way to cultivate a sense of safety and security within ourselves is through regular movement.
Cultivating or maintaining an existing home yoga practice is the best way to realise that these are not platitudes, but promises, and that the key to reaping the rewards of our yoga practise is regularity.
It’s surely magic, but not the kind that works on its own.
ROLL OUT YOUR MAT
The first step is, of course, to roll out your mat. Find or create a space in your home that feels comfortable and safe, where you are less likely to be distracted by family members, roommates, pets – or an unorganised filing cabinet! This spot doesn’t have to be particularly beautiful or ‘yogic,’ and in fact the beauty of a home practice is understanding that yoga really is an internal experience that can be done anywhere, anytime, and in any environment or circumstance. However, it will be far easier to access a sense of peace and tranquillity inside if we have less tugging at our attention outside.
ENGAGE IN RITUAL
Creating your at-home studio is less about aesthetic beauty and more about cleanliness, privacy and quietude. You may like to light a candle or some incense, or even brew your favourite herbal tea. Not because these things are absolutely necessary, but because it can be helpful to engage in ritual that grounds us in our sense of touch, smell and taste. Rituals like this mark the transition from our predominantly mental processes, to more deeply feeling ones, particularly when we practice at home and amidst the many markers and reminders of our daily life. The literal space we create will help us carve out a more sacred mental one, ritual being one of the most powerful ways to initiate this.
EMBRACE THE SENSES
Just as burning oils and sipping tea can bring us into our feeling senses and trigger a positive memory in our body, so too does the familiar sound of our regular teacher’s voice and cues. New and seasoned practitioners alike can struggle to conjure the discipline required to complete a home practice. It is far easier to be fooled by our mental resistance to feeling and change, or give up just as the going gets spicy, when we don’t have the powerful unconscious motivation that practicing in a group, or with a teacher, provides. This is where being guided by the familiar voice and expert instruction of your teacher becomes essential! Our teacher will also help to sequence poses in a way that is not only enjoyable, but safe and beneficial, too.
At Living Flow, since ceasing in-studio classes, we have commenced once, sometimes twice, daily live-stream classes! While-maintaining physical distancing is crucial at this time, nourishing the roots of our social and spiritual connections is more important than ever. What I’m sure all of us miss the most at this time is human contact, especially with our friends, neighbours and broader community.
We are so glad to see that our Living Flow live-stream classes are providing a way for us to stay united as a community, nourish our invisible connections to each other, and still share the same sacred space that is created by practicing in a group, simply stretched – pardon the pun! This is also a wonderful way to practice with and “meet” other yogis in your community who may usually practice at different times to you, or you simply may not have met in the studio. Don’t worry, no-one can see or hear you during the class, you just have a chance to say hi or wave before and after the class. It’s pretty cool!
Now more than ever, our yoga practice will serve as a tool to connect us to the stillness that always lives inside, the light of hope that may be flickering but never goes out, the deep knowing that we have the power and spirit to weather life’s storms, digest its experiences, and become wiser, more resilient beings for having endured challenge and change with grace and fluidity. May we remember that these truths live not in the library of our mind, but in the fabric and tissues of our body, and that yoga is our portal to them.
Written by Erin J Dooley – with gratitude we say thank you.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~ Lao Tzu